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TORONTO – Quebec broadcast giant Quebecor Media has been ordered to offer on-demand content to rival content carriers.
The CRTC, Canada’s broadcast regulator, told Montreal-based Quebecor to end an arrangement that gave cable operator Videotron Ltd. exclusive access to content from over-the-air network TVA Group, both of which are owned by the Quebec media player.
The ruling, coming in response to complaints by rivals Bell Canada and Telus Corp. against Videotron, is the latest by the CRTC as it looks to allay fears by content carriers here that industry consolidation will deny them access to newly-acquired programming.
“The commission (CRTC) considers that given the emerging role of VOD in the BDU business model and the popularity of TVA’s programming in Quebec, it would be difficult for a new BDU seeking to penetrate the Quebec market to attract subscribers if it cannot offer TVA programs on its VOD service,” the regulator said in its decision.
“The Commission is of the view that the agreement between (Videotron) Illico and TVA will likely have a significant adverse effect on Telus and Bell due to their reduced ability to compete in the Quebec distribution market,” the CRTC added.
Videotron launched its on-demand Illico web service last summer ahead of Netflix and other U.S. digital platforms migrating to Canada and offering stiff competition for domestic VOD services from domestic cable and phone giants.
At the same time, industry consolidation from recent takeover like Shaw Communications acquiring the former Canwest Global Communications Corp.’s TV assets and Bell Canada picking up the CTV national TV network has the CRTC warning against media players distributing content exclusively to their own subscribers.
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